Quick Lit August 2020

The New York Times Book Review says this "evok[es] the great Agatha Christie classics… Pay close attention to seemingly throwaway details about the characters' pasts. They are all clues." From the publisher: "A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party. It's a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride's oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn't wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?"
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A What Should I Read Next guest favorite! (Listen to Episode 100 for all the juicy details.) From the publisher: "A blazingly inventive near-future thriller from the best-selling, Hugo Award-winning John Scalzi." Kirkus says with "plenty of action, great character development, vivid and believable world-building and a thought-provoking examination of disability culture and politics [it]is definitely worth the ride."
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"Making good moonshine isn't that different from telling a good story, and no one tells a story like a woman." So begins Shiner, a new literary novel certain to land on my best-of-the-year list. Wren lives in the Appalachian Mountains with her family: her snake-handler father, who scares and enraptures the town with his preaching, and her mother, who only ever wanted to get off the mountain with her best friend Ivy, but whose parents made her marry. When Ivy stumbles into the fire and Wren's father performs a "miraculous healing," it sets in motion a chain of events that has devastating consequences for all. Gorgeous, lush, and beautifully sympathetic, I read this in one sitting. Recommended reading for fans of Jayber Crow.
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From the publisher: "Two-time Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles spotlights the consequences of societal pressure, confronts toxic masculinity, and explores the complexity of what it means to be a 'real man.' Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she's finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del's right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he's inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge. His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn't believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del's not about to lose his dream girl, and that's where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers' questions…about sex ed." <em>Publishers Weekly</em> included this on their Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List, saying, "With true-to-life characters and a straightforward handling of sex, including often ignored aspects of male sexuality, Giles's thoughtful, hilarious read offers a timely viewpoint on religion, toxic masculinity, and teen sexuality."
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From the publisher: "A mesmerizing novel about the burden of secrets carried across generations. Lil and Frank married young, launched into courtship when they bonded over how they both—suddenly, tragically— lost a parent when they were children. Over time, their marriage grew and strengthened, with each still wishing for so much more understanding of the parents they'd lost prematurely. Now, after many years in Boston, they've retired to North Carolina. There, Lil, determined to leave a history for their children, sifts through letters and notes and diary entries—perhaps revealing more secrets than Frank wants their children to know. Meanwhile, Frank has become obsessed with what might have been left behind at the house he lived in as a boy on the outskirts of town, where a young single mother, Shelley, is just trying to raise her son with some sense of normalcy. Hieroglyphics reveals the difficulty of ever really knowing the intentions and dreams and secrets of the people who raised you."
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